One thing we have learned from the assault and destruction visited on the World Trade Center is that none of this needed to happen. Aside from natural disasters, it is the willfulness of men that brings misery to our world. It comes to us disguised as greed, religious zealotry, secular zealotry, and plainspoken stupidity, but it is willfulness and little more. It is best witnessed in the pouting child denied his whim. How much destruction has been visited on us by angry children?
Women in America often seem proud of the fact that men never grow up, that they remain perpetual adolescent buffoons. They seem to revel in the standard male gibberish about world events, family situations, and political frufra, about which they usually know little or nothing. Was it not Sarah Palin during her campaign run with aging war hero John McCain, who made the offhand remark when asked about his intransigence on a now forgotten subject: “I’m working on him.” It was delivered in a tone of voice one might use in discussing the training of a monkey.
We have to do a better job of being human. One of the most important ways of going about this is to reject “the true believer.” Those inculcated with doctrinaire beliefs whether religious or secular can only mean us harm. For the true believer, being right is more important than being. They fear science because it constantly changes the perimeters of what is true. The true believer cannot exist outside a world of absolutes, and unchangeable truths are usually inflicted, not arrived at.
When thinking of the Taliban don’t forget Randall Terry’s fundamentalist jihad against abortion rights. Christian terrorists throw bombs and shoot innocent people simply because these people do not believe as they do. Distant from the Taliban? Both hold extreme interpretations of supposed religious truth. Both use intimidation and violence to demand compliance or death. So when asking “good” Muslims to stand up against Islamic fascism make damn certain you ask that “good” fellow in the mirror to stand up as well, against Christo-fascism.
Another element of doing a better job of being human is removing tax exemptions on all religions, including Islam. Whether or not one believes a god is guiding the ship, it is our hands on the tiller. We should prosecute American religious terrorists as relentlessly as we do those with foreign sounding names. I argue for an aggressive secularism where religion finds a secondary role as comforter, peacekeeper, and nothing more.
I have focused here, on the religious aspect of true believer-ism because most worldwide violence today is caused by religious fundamentalism. There are secular true believers as well, and I will discuss them next time.
Can we be smarter and kinder with one another? Tolerance is not a luxury in our current situation; it is a necessity. Our social fabric as well as our economic health are on life support and there are those who wish to pull the plug. True believers have always been the enemies of human progress and always will be. It is their cruel fanaticism that permitted them to bring down the World Trade Center without regard to the cost in human life, suffering, or treasure. They are blood brothers to the festering minds who brought down the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.
We have to begin building more than brick and mortar monuments to tragedy and start building a world where it is harder for these murderous diseases to find willing hosts.